Every one of us has within us a heart that is on fire, burning with the desire for inclusion, harmony and peace. We have simply covered it with conventional cultural belief systems and poor self-care habits that breed despair. We can blame the media if we like, and yet we have a choice about where we focus our attention and our intentions. We are responsible for our own evolution.
What the world needs now is not love as a thought or a feeling. It needs love as a daily, disciplined PRACTICE in every waking moment. This is not impossible. It just takes a little bit of courage to take that very first baby step in that direction, and then to take a second step, a third, and so on. Any step at all will move us towards our heart’s desire.
Prayer is one of those baby steps that anyone can do. I suggest that we keep our prayers “undirected,” that is not to any entity outside ourselves, but more as an awakening of our inner, higher self. Prayer is not a plea for help, it is a reminder to ourselves to allow that help to arrive, a creation of an empty bowl free of egoic desires for specific results. Prayer is not about those that are suffering, it is about removing our own internal barriers to compassion that prevent us from taking action to relieve that suffering of others, today.
In addition, meditation is that touchstone to love that strengthens the ability to simply observe without attachment. I still get attached to certain outcomes, and yet because I’ve built my internal observer through daily meditation “workouts,” disappointment becomes more like a strange movie that I am simply watching unfold. My ego may suffer anxiety, yet my observer is immovable, secure.
The praxis of love, then, is Letting Old Vanity (ego) Evaporate, moment by moment, day by day, year by year. It doesn’t happen within the context of how we normally think about time. Once the intention to pursue Love as a practice is set, it is as if we stepped into a powerful river which will carry us on a wondrous journey that is timeless.
So the trick is to remember to remember, isn’t it? I once set my digital watch to remind me on the hour that I was in the river of “God’s hands.” I would forget again so easily! What a wake-up lesson that was! Since then I have built little rituals into my day that serve me as touch-points of remembering. As I have made progress in recovering from a life of not just self-deprecating thoughts but outright self-destructive violent actions, it is very clear to me that toxic shame was the root of it all, and the most difficult to overcome. Will I ever be “enough?” How can I be “better?” Do more? Self-acceptance of myself just as I am, warts and all, is now my joyful journey. Establishing a relationship with a Higher Power (Universal Energy, whatever name you wish) which created and loves me just as I am, and speaks to me through other people, is part of that. I cannot do it alone, and I can no longer believe that I am alone, or ever was alone.
“For the trouble is that we are self-centered, and no effort of the self can remove the self from the centre of its own endeavor.” — William Temple
Paulo Coelho says “The most powerful hallucinogen in this planet is called Love. Highly addictive! You will see and hear things that don’t exist!” Love is similar to a drug in that it alters not only our brain chemistry, it also alters our perceptions and motivations.
However, it is not a “quick fix,” it is a permanent lifestyle change acquired through diligent, focused practice of letting go. I would change the word “addictive” to “attractive,” and agree with Alex Blumentals, who replied “I think Paulo merely had a bad day or this is not really what he meant. Perhaps he meant “…you will see things that are as real as anything else yet invisible to the ordinary senses”
Our “ordinary” perceptions are the ones that are un-real, subjective, and hallucinations.
Still, Paulo’s statement is very provocative, and I smile at him. Sometimes, when I feel love very strongly, I wonder if I’m dreaming because the experience seems so extraordinary — colors seem more vivid, every soft breath of wind is felt, and I feel the love of life in the trees. What if we turned Paulo’s statement on its head, and said fear and depression were very addictive, and that once we are free of its chemistry, we will see and hear things as they really are?